Behind enemy lines for five days during World War II

GEORGE Moll was separated from his regiment, behind enemy lines in the heart of Greece, for five days during World War II.

His regiment had been working with the Greek army at the front line, trying to occupy the area as the Germans advanced from the north.

The Australians were managing to keep the Germans behind their lines, but ultimately, the Greek army were ill equipped to push back the invaders.

Greek and Aussie soldiers, George among them, were left with no option but to retreat back to safety.

They managed to distance themselves from the enemy but they could go no further, blocked by a roaring river in their path.

After days of being stranded on the river bank, fearing the enemy would be upon them at any moment, the company were found by allies.

A single rope 'bridge' was thrown over for them to cross.

They discarded their guns but kept their ammunition, which was to their detriment.

"I had my gun mechanism on me and most of the ammunition, so I was even heavier than the others," George said.

Too heavy for the rope, the soldiers were thrown into the river.

"Those that came off the rope behind me, I can only imagine that they drowned," George said.

"I was clinging on to the rope for dear life, but the current was too strong.

"Just as I thought I couldn't hold on any longer, another piece of the rope - that must have been airborne, bubbling, you know - came between my legs and thrust me towards the river bank.

"I scrambled straight through some bushes and into the trees."

He quickly realised that the allies had left them stranded, having assumed they drowned or retreated from the enemy, George doesn't know for sure.

He was left with only one other who had survived the river, another Aussie soldier called Lofty Wilson.

They set out South, following the path they thought their comrades had taken.

The atmosphere was eerie and they soon learned why…Lofty and George realised they were behind enemy lines.

They stuck to the trees as much as they could, going days without food or proper drinking water.

Finally the pair came across a small deserted town and met two travelling Greeks. They asked if they could ride in the back of the truck.

That night they stayed at the town, the Greeks resting on porch beds of an abandoned house and the two soldiers guarding the truck.

George and Lofty slept with their guns strapped to their chests, to take down anyone who tried to steal the truck, but it's wasn't the truck they had to worry about.

George woke the next morning to find his boots had been stolen during the night.

Wet, muddy and cold, he had to go without shoes.

As they began their journey southward, they passed a few towns before coming across a commotion- a group of locals surrounding a body on the ground - they were just passing-by when George rapped on the truck for the driver to stop.

He went over and started untying the dead man's boots.

When locals began to protest and push George away from the body, he pulled out his gun and swung it around, grabbed the shoes and ran back to the truck.

"I had to have those boots, it's so important to keep yourself protected against the elements," he said.

"But I hated those boots, all warn out and not the right size, dreadful."

By this time the two soldiers had been separated from their regiment for four days and their families back in Australia had been notified of their disappearance.

They were finally reunited with their comrades on the fifth day, near the east coast of Greece.

George was one of the first enlisted Australian soldiers in World War II, when the call came through for 2000 men to go to war, he sent a telegram directly to the Prime Minister volunteering his service.

The Prime Minister's office sent a reply, stating that the first soldiers to be sent overseas would be those in the militia and if they needed more they would contact him.

The militia filled up 1500 of the 2000 men needed. George's service number was 1582 because he was the 82nd Aussie man enlisted into service for World War II.

He said he joined the army as a "common soldier" but by the time he finished, after surviving five days MIA and with soldiers following his orders, he had a few more stripes and medals on his uniform.

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